Behind the Bar: Jennifer Banaszewski at Casey Moore's
Jennifer Banaszewski is the queen of happy hour at Casey Moore's.
When informing a potential love interest of your plans to hit Casey Moore's this weekend, there's no romantic deal-breaker quite like the "Who's Casey?" response.
The neighborhood bar housed in a historical property built in 1910 is as much a Tempe landmark as the old flour mill, but pulls a much better crowd. It's notoriety and consistently great business make Jennifer Banaszewski's bartending gig at Casey Moore's an enviable position.
Jennifer, a Tempe native, has been a bartender here for almost four years (a feat that would make her top dog at many bars), but she's got a long way to go for bartender seniority at Casey Moores'. At well over 20 years behind the bar, Jennifer says her coworker Michael has been there the longest.
The most senior bartenders generally take the weekend evening shifts inside, so Jennifer has made happy hour at the patio bar her niche.
"I always bartend outside," she says; "I don't mind. It's so nice to be outside, especially this time of year."
Since the outside bar provides heaters and air conditioning, Jennifer doesn't have to brave the elements too severely. Still, she says, the summers can get so uncomfortable behind the bar that she can't imagine wanting to sit outside and drink.
"Summers are hard outside especially," she says, but "I still have my regulars everyday. I don't know how they do it."
Jennifer's loyal regulars are what she enjoys most about the job. She used to be a hairdesser, where she frequently had to play the counselor role; now she finds comfort in playing a similar role as bartender.
Midway through the interview, one of her regulars hands her a plastic bag full of mint leaves, then patiently takes his seat at the bar.
"I have a customer who picks mint from ASU and he brings it for me so I can make him Mojitos," she explains with a smile. She uses a Red Bull can to muddle the mint leaves, and tries to incorporate the ingredient into other drinks as well, such as the Mint Julep.
As fun and rewarding the coveted Casey Moore's bartender position can be, Jennifer maintains that it's one of the most challenging jobs she's ever had.
"It's hard," she says; "it's not a fluff job, for sure. You gotta lug the ice, you gotta set up the whole bar, you gotta break it down; it's late hours. People think you make a lot of money but it's also very hard work."
It was hard work that got Jennifer the bartending position in the first place. While it didn't hurt that she was already friends with on or two people on staff, Jennifer started as a hostess, even though she had a wealth of restaurant experience. She seized the bartending opportunity once management decided to open the outside bar during the day.
For now, Jennifer spends Tuesdays-Thursdays (and sometimes weekends) at the bar serving up dollar-off well and draft drinks during happy hour (4pm-7pm); she's also back in school to pursue a career in nursing. Whatever her future holds, Jennifer hopes that Casey's will always have a role in her life, be it for work or for play.
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